Former vice president Al Gore takes questions from PIA president...

Former vice president Al Gore takes questions from PIA president Kevin Law at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. (March 8, 2013) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Former Vice President Al Gore, speaking to Long Island business leaders Friday, said their experience as "ground zero for superstorm Sandy" should make them advocates for combating climate change.

Gore made the suggestion in a conversation with Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business group. Gore's remarks, in front of an audience of more than 1,000 local businesspeople, took place at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

"This association ought to consider speaking in a bipartisan way . . . on global warming legislation," Gore said.

In the audience were Stony Brook University professors Minghua Zhang and Edmund Chang, who contributed research on climate change to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Gore.

Gore said that putting a price on carbon emissions would lead to innovations in energy production, and Long Island could participate in that effort. "You've got such an entrepreneurial community out here," he said. He argued the tax burden of charging for carbon emissions could be offset with other incentives.

The former congressman and senator from Tennessee also criticized the modern process of political campaigning and financing, saying democracy had been "hacked" by the special interest groups and wealthy political donors.

"It's the simple reason why there is virtually no reform of any kind that can pass the Congress today," he said.

He praised President Barack Obama's tenure and called the health care overhaul, the cornerstone of Obama's first administration, an "advance."

Gore, who currently serves as a director at Apple Inc. and a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, said he thought there was a lot of "exciting work under way" on Long Island as local officials try to promote entrepreneurship and new companies as a way to jump-start the economy. He added that Kleiner Perkins has considered investing in Long Island companies.

The talk also touched on recent hot button issues. Gore called the National Rifle Association a "fraud," saying the organization is a "puppet" controlled by gunmakers. He also said that China's cooperation with the United States in crafting new United Nations sanctions on North Korea was an optimistic sign.

Asked if he would ever consider a return to politics, Gore called himself a "recovering politician" and said he "won't succumb once again."

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